Friday, 28 April 2017

Akshaya Tritiya – A Special day of Auspiciousness

Are you doing anything special today? Asked one of my colleague. No, not really but, what is so special about today? I asked. Today is Akshaya Tritiya, which is supposed to be an auspicious time to start any new ventures, businesses, work and even buy gold' Explained my friend.
I became curious about this Akshaya Triti, did a bit of research, and came up with some interesting information and historical incidents. Firstly, a tithi is a lunar day, the time it takes for the longitudinal angle between the Moon and the Sun to increase by 12°. Tithi plays an important role along with nakshatra in Hindus' daily as well as special activities in selecting the muhurta.Nakshatra refers to a Star and muhurta is the time or the auspicious time.
So, people in Vedic culture of Eastern tradition, follow astrology based on lunar calendar to do anything important or significant in life which means, starting a new job, wedding, naming ceremony, new business, buying some property etc.
Thus, Akshaya Triti (Today in India and for Australia - tomorrow), falls on the third Tithi (lunar day) of Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of the pan-Indian month of Vaishakha and one of the four most important days for Hindus. I wondered why?
Some of the reasons or explanations that found are,
Because, it is an auspicious day of the birthday of Lord Parasurama who is the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Took this Photo during my trip few weeks ago at Murwillumbah, NSW

On this same day, about 5000 years ago on this day Veda Vyas began to write Mahabharata, which turned out to be a huge book of 100,000 verses. He wanted a suitable personality - a Scribe to pen this epic volume. He requested Lord Ganesh to take up this task of writing. Ganesh agreed on one condition that, he would write as long as there is no break to the flow of words being spoken. Veda Vyasa agreed to the condition but, himself put a condition that Whatever Ganesh writes, he should do so, only after comprehending the full meaning of the verse. This way, whenever he needed some break, Vyasadev would throw some tricky verse and before Ganesh realise the meaning, he would start his dictation again.
The word "Akshay" in sanskrit means-inexhaustible, and the day is believed to bring good luck and success. On the same day, in Mahabharata it is mentioned that a wonderful vessel called Akshaya Patra was given to Yudhishthira by the Lord surya which held a never-failing supply of food to the Pandavas every day. The Sun God, who gave the vessel advised Pandavas that the vessel will remain with them for next 12 years and will supply continuous supply of food in a day, till Draupadi takes her share of food for the day. What happens after Draupadi takes her share? Of course, there is a wonderful pastime mentioned in Mahabharata where, Duryodhana tricks the ever angry sage Durvasa and his thousands disciples to visit pandavas who are living in the forest with bare necessities. And, when Durvasa reaches Pandavas hermitage and informs them that he is going to take bath in the nearby river and along with will be coming to have lunch at their place. By then, Draupadi already had her share of food for the day and the vessel will not give any more for the day. She desperately calls out and prays to Krishna, who immediately appears but to her dismay asks her for something to eat. Really, are you joking Krishna? Exclaims Draupadi. But, Krishna convinces her to look at the vessel for any piece of food that is remaining. Draupadi goes to see, finds few food grains, and offers it to Krishna with great hesitation. Lord Krishna happily eats the food grains and the moment he eats them, Durvasa and all his disciple who had a bath in the river and just finished their morning rites suddenly felt their stomachs full, as if they had a heavy lunch.Durvasa fearing the wreath of fiery Bheema, hastily left the place because, they became afraid that they will not be able to honor the Prasad or food that will be offered to them and which inturn might make the hosts, especially Bheema angry and displeased.
Thus, it is considered lucky and auspicious to do charity on this day.
Akshaya Tritiya is also considered as the first day of the Start of Satya Yuga. Also, on this day both the planets Sun and Moon are exalted at the same time, providing beneficial effects.
There is also the story of Sudama Brahmana,who visited his childhood friend Lord Krishna on this same day to ask for some help, becasue he was poor and unable to feed his family.Lord Krishna was so happy to see his friend, received him and treated him with utmost respect and fed him nice meals. After all this, Sudama became hesitant and shy to ask his friend for the help. But, Lord Krishna asked Sudama, what he had brought for him. He saw Sudama was trying to hide puffed rice tied in a cloth. He took it forcibly and had few morsels of the puffed rice. Finally, Sudama returned to his place, without asking anything from Krishna. However, Lord Krishna who is the Super Soul of all the living beings became satisfied by the puffed rice and even though Sudama did not ask for anything verbally, Sudama’s home instantly turned into a beautiful palace. There was beautiful furniture inside and treasure chests, filled with gold and jewels. There was food on the tables, delicious sweets, and wonderful drinks. Sudama’s family’s rags turned into robes fit for royalty. 
So friends, that is about the Akshaya Triti.By the way, In India today is this special day, In Australia it is tomorrow and USA probably not finished.
You can check by entering your place,

People in India generally buy gold because, the belief is that anything done on this day keeps growing.Akshya. And, also try to do some good things, start any new work, new business, buying etc. By the way, as per Indian lunar calendar Akshaya Triti is one of those 3 days, on which you can do anything (good) and the results will be auspicious, no need to check anything else. Good Luck and have a Good weekend.  

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Twenty two Life Lessons from Ramayana by Radhanath Swami

Today (April 5, 2017) is Sri Rama Navami,the auspicious appearance day of Lord Sri Ramachandra. Lord Rama appeared in the month of Chaitra (March – April), on the ninth day of the growing moon (Chaitra Masa, Shukla Paksha, Navami Tithi).
Sri Ramachandra appeared as the son of Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya, who hailed from the dynasty of Maharaja Ikshvaku (also known as Raghu vamsha).
Sita,Ram,Lakshman, Hanuman at Bhaktivedanta Manor,Hertfordshire UK.

Below lessons are extracted from a talk given by Radhanath Swami.

*Power of Bad Association*: It was a known fact in Ayodhya that Kaikeyi loved Lord Rama more than his own son Bharath, then how could she become so evil. It is by her bad association with Mantara.

*Attachment to service & not to the position*: Lord Ram was willing to become the king as a service to Maharaj Dasarath and He was willing to go to the forest as a service to His father.

*Mission of Life should be to vanquish the demoniac tendencies in our heart:* Lord Ram’s purpose to kill the demons was fulfilled by His banishment to the forest.

*Even extreme reversals if taken in the proper spirit will help us fulfill our mission in life:* For example, Law of gravity is only in effect in the Earth’s sphere and not beyond. So also, Laws of material nature act only in material consciousness not in spiritual consciousness.

*Ram or Aaram(Hindi word for rest), A test for every seeker*: Citizens of Ayodhya wanted to go with Lord Ram to forest and leave behind all the comforts (Aaram) of the City Ayodhya.

*Alertness in Spiritual Life*: Lord Ram leaves Ayodhyavasis when they were asleep. If one is inattentive or lazy, one will loose taste in Bhakti.

Sita, Ram, Lakshman at Bhadrachalam, Telangana, India.
*(Sometimes) Saintly persons might cause pain to others, not to hurt them but benefit them:* Bharat disowns Kaikeyi, or Prahlad disregards Hiranyakashipu, a Doctor may cause pain (operation) to patient to cure him. Goal is to please the Lord: For Bharat, he wanted to stay in the forest that was easier than to return and rule the Kingdom but he did it to please Lord Ram.

*Lord is the Proprietor*: Bhoktaram Yajna tapasam (Bhagavad Gita 5.29). Bharat was ruling the kingdom on Lord Ram’s behalf by keeping the Paduka’s (Footwear of Lord Rama) on the Throne. We are only caretakers, He is the real proprietor, and He can give and take away. The Caretaker acts according to the will of the owner.

*Anybody can make a show of greatness*: The reversals test us who we are. When Lakshmana cuts Surpanaka’s nose, gone was the charming form, gone was the facade and then the real ugly form manifested. One’s greatness is tested by one’s ability to tolerate provoking situations.

*Bhakti (Sita) cannot be achieved by Deception:* Ravana wanted to kidnap Sitadevi by deception, but he gets Maya-Sita at the end. Greed and lust are never satiated, they lead to arrogance and envy.Attachments can creates traps and make us suffer: Marichi takes up a golden dear form to which Sitadevi developed deep attachment to have it and thus trapped Sitadevi. We should see the substance through the eyes of the scripture. Marichi was all about false promises. For example, spider web is most attractive to the fly but actually, it is a trap.

*Maya knows our weaknesses:* She can make our strength into weaknesses and take us away from the circle of instructions of great souls. Ravana uses Sitadevi’s jnana attitude to serve great souls to disobey Lakshmana.

*Always stand by the Right*: Jatayu’s integrity. Real success is to please the Lord. Jatayu lost his life fighting for Lord Ram but achieved the purpose of Life to please the Lord. It is better to lose & win than to win & lose.

*Patience, Determination & Enthusiasm*: Example of Shabari. Long time ago, Guru had asked her to wait for Lord Ram while all other disciples and Guru himself went back to Godhead. She showed her enthusiasm by working hard every day to clean the place, plucking flowers & fruits for the Lord. She had complete faith in the words of Guru and patiently waited with determination.

*The Lord reveals only when He wants. Honesty, we cannot put a facade before the Lord:* Hanumanji disguises when he went to meet Lord Ram. Lord knows within who we are, we have to be honest to receive the mercy of the Lord. Lord Ram did not speak to Hanuman for four months.

*Obstacles on the path of Bhakti*: The demons who came to stop Hanuman during his jumping across the ocean. Mainaka (Gold Mountain) - temptation to seek comfort before achieving our real purpose. Simhika (Shadow catching demoness) - While striving for Bhakti, people will chastise, criticize and misunderstand us, we should have the willingness to tolerate. Surasa (Serpent): Being envious of people in higher position and try to stop their progress. This is jealousy of the mind. By devotional service, we have to devour Simhika who represents Envy.

*Arrogance cannot understand well-wishers: The world is a mirror of our own consciousness. Ravana was thinking Mandodari was envious of Sita, but actually, he was envious of Lord Ram. Ravana was thinking Vibhisana was disloyal and taking the side of Lord Ram, but he was disloyal to Kubera, his cousin brother. When we think we know, we are not willing to listen to good counsel. Spiritual progress means simplicity and humility. If they are lacking, we will not listen thinking that we know better, that was Ravana.

*Big or Small, we can swim the ocean of Samsara by chanting Lord Ram’s holy name*: Big or Small, all the stones floated by writing Lord Ram’s name.Pride or Attachment leads to loss of intelligence: dhyayato visayan pumsah (Bhagavad Gita 2.62). Ravana exhibited every stage of this sloka. Loss of intelligence - Even when all his stalwart warriors including Kumbakarna, Indrajit died but he still did not give up.

*Hearing about the Lord - Revival of dormant love:* Lord Ram being Paramatma in the heart of everyone including Ravana could have killed him just by turning off Ravana’s heart. However, the Lord and His pleasure potency Sitadevi went through this whole ordeal so that we can hear about the Lord and revive our dormant love.

*Righteousness*: Vibhishana comes to take shelter of Lord Ram, all the monkeys were against, except Hanumanji. Vibhishana was willing to be misunderstood or even chastised to surrender to the Lord.

*Counsel and Advise in battle against Illusion*: In battle against Illusion, at every stage association of devotees to put us straight without which we will fall. Lord Ram does not need but takes the counsel of Vibhishana.

*Grace of a Sadhu needed to kill demons within* Agastya muni had given a divine arrow to Lord Ram. That arrow was used by Lord Ram to kill Ravan by piercing his heart.

*Welcoming the Lord in hearts with lamps*: That is Dipavali festival. Lord Ram is welcomed back into Ayodhya with lamps. Dipavali is not just physical fire but lighting the hearts with light of Lord’s grace and process of devotional service. When heart is fully illuminated, then we can experience Lord Ram within ourselves. When our love awakens. Then Ramrajya is awakened within the heart and then without (i.e. out in the world). Jai Shree Ram!